book review

Vintage Book Look: Finding inspiration and lessons in craft books of old

My phone rang, I moaned and dug it out of my bag (little known secret, I hate phone calls). When I saw it was my dear friend my attitude instantly changed. “Hi Linda, what’s up?”

“I’m so glad you answered! I’m here, in this amazing thrift shop, and they have all these vintage craft books. Do you want them? Here, let me read you the titles.” She sounded like she found the mother-load, her voice had that excited this-is-the-best-thing-ever quiver to it. Of course I said yes to every book she mentioned. How could I ever turn down “Sewing Knits – menswear” or “Stitch by Stitch volumes 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7?” I could not.

Sometimes I’ll make projects from vintage book patterns (they are often made with unknown sizing changes and bizarre-o standards). And I do regularly use them as a source of inspiration, laughter, and general silly making in the studio.

(love that cow cover)

(oh my gosh, look at those targets! But I do love those chairs)

Sometimes though, you find one, like the “Dressmaker’s Dictionary” circa 1943 that is a true gem of techniques and practical advice.

(“come knit me baby” should be the title of this book, yikes! I like the yoke though, just not the lacing, see, inspiration!)

(oh my gosh that kid does not look excited about having to even touch that clown. But check out that amazing patchwork quilt on the bed though! Lovely!)

I’m an odd duck in the way that I actually read vintage craft books cover to cover. I love the writing along with the patterns. Some are easier to digest then others. The “Dressmaker’s Dictionary” is definitely a more technical piece of crafting literature.

(sometimes you find a little book like this tucked into a larger book, which is always a treat)

(I actually really like this sweater and just might end up making it)

What’s your favorite vintage book? Do you tend to read them cover to cover or flip through for pictorial inspiration and laughs?

Happy crafting!
Kristin Roach

6 thoughts on “Vintage Book Look: Finding inspiration and lessons in craft books of old

  1. Hello,
    I always look for old craft books in the charity shops and I recently went to a bookshop that has a lot of second hand books. I found some great old needlework books and a fab sewing book which I think is from the 1920s (it has no date in it). I’ve taken some pictures and can’t wait to blog about it but Blogger is playing up at the moment so come and visit me in a few days to see it!
    https://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.com

  2. I LOVE vintage craft books and magazines. I have an ever-growing collection. And my grandma always calls me whenever she digs up a new one from her attic! They are full of such great inspiration!

  3. Oh, lucky you! My mom used to have a lot of the Stitch By Stitch books, along with another craft series that I can’t think of the name of right now. Guess I’ll have to go raid her house and see if any are still hanging around.

  4. Awesome discovery! I really need to spend some time poring over my vintage weaving books again – how can anyone not be inspired by this stuff? :)

  5. Envy, I haz it! Soooooo wonderful. I discovered the Oxfam bookshop in Guildford and cleaned the place out but your finds are even better, I have to say!

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